The gender pay gap is well documented, but a lesser known and equally concerning issue is the gender investment gap.
Statistics show that businesses founded by women generate twice the revenue of male-founded companies. Yet, they are less likely to be backed by Investors when pitching for early stage capital.
Multiple award-winning entrepreneur Tammy Barton is well aware of the disparity between female competency and financial success, having managed a 70 percent female workforce for more than two decades.
Ms. Barton founded MyBudget in her early twenties and has since built the firm into a national brand, employing over 250 staff in fifteen offices throughout Australia.
When recruiting, Barton asks headhunters to present her with an equal balance of male and female candidates and takes extra steps to identify high achieving women within her business. Not as an act of tokenism – but to ensure that she effectively taps into latent talent.
Perfectionism – the enemy of greatness
“In many cases, highly competent and capable women won’t put themselves forward for a role or a promotion”, said Tammy.
“Generally speaking, I’ve noticed that my female employees tend to be more perfectionist then men. They doubt themselves significantly more and often sell themselves short.
“My observation is that they’ll usually only put their hands up for a promotion or new opportunity if they feel they meet absolutely all of the criteria.
“The problem with this is that women often undervalue their own performance – something that’s been really apparent in the biannual appraisals we conduct at MyBudget.
“In contrast, I’ve noticed that men tend to charge towards opportunities, even if they tick fewer boxes.
“Of course, I’m not saying that women are more competent than men, or vice versa. But there appear to be different mindsets and approaches to risk, which influence how far they progress.
“In my opinion, that’s why female-founded companies and job candidates are such a safe investment – you can be confident that a woman standing in front of you has stress-tested her idea to the nth degree before she’s taken that leap of courage to get there”.
Doing it for the ‘why’
Ms. Barton started MyBudget in 1999 after working at a debt collection agency where she was struck by the harmful effects of financial stress on people’s lives.
She felt compelled to make a positive difference and this desire motivated her foray into money management services – which she has since delivered to more than 100,000 clients.
Ms. Barton recognises this same trait among many of her female employees.
“I have found women to be really emotionally connected to their work”, said Tammy. “Generally speaking, men appear to be more driven by incentives, such as status or financial reward, whereas women are more inclined towards work they find socially meaningful.
“This is why I believe it’s so important to promote diversity and have a healthy proportion of female candidates.
“Again, I’m not saying that women are better than men or vice versa, but these gender differences complement one another, which means having the right balance is key”.
Dispelling the inferiority complex
Throughout her career, Barton has won a plethora of national and state awards including the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence Award in 2012 and the League of Extraordinary Women Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015, the SA Telstra Business Woman of the Year 2017 and 2007 and the EY Entrepreneur of the Year (Central Region) 2008.
But it was following her nomination for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year that she was most doubtful of her ability to win.
“Bear in mind that this was just ten years ago, I really felt less confident about winning this award given the fact I was competing with men as well as women”, said Tammy.
“This isn’t a reflection of my own thoughts about female competency, more a concern about how I would be perceived as measuring up against my male counterparts”.
“I have kept this feeling in mind in designing my diversity and inclusion program and have made a lot of effort to ensure that my female – as well as male employees – recognise their own talent and potential”, she said.
Tammy Barton is among an esteemed line-up of speakers to address the Future Women Executive Summit, where she will talk more about approaches to leadership in a climate of gender equality.
You may download the full agenda here.